Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Faux News GOPhers

Interesting brouhaha in the media. The White House—in response to another attack, this time against Anita Dunn—has come out and said quite plainly that Fox News is not news. They have said that Fox airs a point of view, not news.

Anyone who has been paying attention, and by that, I mean paying attention to more than one or two media sources, knows that the people that Fox puts on the air tend to manipulate the “news.” Quotes truncated. Video clips edited. Speeches cherry-picked. Backgrounds mined for missteps. Those appearing on air are masters of the raised eyebrow, the shrug, the wink, and the earnest gaze into the camera, all designed to imply a meaning to the stated message that we are then to use to infer some nefarious intent, some sliminess of character belonging to the subject of the “news” we have just received.

You will note that I say “the people that Fox puts on the air.” I hesitate to call them reporters, or journalists. I suppose I could call them hosts, although only a few of them actually “host” a show. A commentator, to me, is someone who provides commentary on the issues of the day, and, again in my opinion, should base that commentary on some knowledge of the issues. Knowledge of the historical context of that issue should be a requirement for providing commentary, as well as the significance of the issue to our current and future situation. I hesitate as well to call these on-air individuals personalities, as that calls to mind the Hollywood genre of celebrity—people who are simply famous for being famous. Villagers as a title is already in use as a name to include all the mainstream media sheep following their corporate masters’ direction, usually seen on ABC, NBC, and CBS and read at the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal. Monikers that come to mind for those on Fox News, however, include Foxes, Faux (Foes?), Foxers, or GOPhers.

Names aside, the outrage, much of it from the “mainstream” non-cable media appears directed toward the White House. Apparently, by choosing to engage, the White House has somehow weakened itself and appears petty, unable to “take the heat” according to Ruth Marcus at the Washington Post. Comparing Fox to MSNBC, cable show to cable show, is apparently sufficient, or as Keith Olbermann likes to say, a false equivalency.

I know many people who receive all their “news” from Fox. They say that they prefer Fox because every other source is “too liberal.” They don’t like the positive stories about Obama, or the negative stories about Bush. They prefer watching a media source that tells them the news they want to hear in the way that they want to hear it. If asked to question something—anything—they get angry. I asked someone the other day if MSNBC is so liberal, why they had Morning Joe and Pat Buchanan? Why their straight news had negative stories about Democrats as well as Republicans? I asked them who on Fox News represented progressives? When they had seen a news story on Fox that said positive things about Obama? Or Democrats? Or negative things about the GOP? I asked if they had every actually watched Rachel Maddow or Keith Olbermann? Or read a progressive blog? Or read about the same news story in more than one newspaper? Or watched the same news story on more than one station (not Fox)? Not only could they not answer, they got angry.

When did everything from the left become a personal attack? When did everything from the right become righteous? I used to be tolerant and believe that we were all entitled to our opinions, but when allowing everyone their opinion meant tolerating racism, classism, sexism, and every other kind of ism that I abhor, I find I’ve lost my tolerance.

It’s okay to have an opinion. In fact, we should have an opinion. In a representative democracy, it’s necessary. If you’re unhappy about something, it is incumbent upon you to inform yourself about the issue, weigh the information, form an opinion—based on facts—and make your voice heard to those who will make the decisions about that issue. It is absolutely okay for the GOPhers on Fox News to have an opinion and to voice that opinion. It is absolutely okay for Rupert Murdoch who owns Fox News to pay those people to voice his opinion. When that opinion refuses to acknowledge fact, and science, and history, and humanity, then I don’t have to tolerate it and I do have to do everything in my power to work against it and work to ensure that that opinion does not become a part of the social fabric.

What is NOT okay, is to call that opinion news. What is not okay is to provide the GOP 24/7 access to free TV advertising. What is not okay is to have a “news” outlet have a show to “debate” an issue before Congress and have the “opposing” opinion be simply someone slightly less conservative than the first opinion. I’m glad the White House has stepped up and called Fox News on its behavior. I hope that they stand firm on this and hope other media realize that we are not idiots and that we do understand the difference between news and opinion and not only that, we understand the difference between opinion based on fact, and opinion based on crap.

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.

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